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A tale of two universities

Miguel Braganza

It is a cause of joy that the deputy chief minister and minister of agriculture, Chandrakant Kavlekar has announced the Goa Government’s desire to establish a university for organic agriculture in Goa. How serious he is about it will be known from the budget proposals for 2020-21 in the upcoming session. If there is a budgetary provision of funds to set up the university and a bill to enact the act necessary for establishing a university on the lines of the Goa, Daman and Diu Goa University Act, 1985, then we know that the government of Goa state is serious about what it has stated publicly. When established, it will be the first organic agriculture university in India.

The University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, is the alma mater of many serving and retired agriculture officers and other professionals in Goa. Recently, the alumni of my batch of 1982 were in Goa for a reunion. They have been very supportive of establishing the first ‘college of agriculture’ in Goa and it was my classmate, N Deva Kumar who assisted in the documentation to be submitted to the Goa University for grant of affiliation. He is also a member of the Goa University’s board of studies in agriculture along with fellow alumnus and principal scientist at ICAR-CCARI, Old Goa, AR Desai. My batch has four current deans of agriculture, including Deva Kumar, who earlier headed the Research Institute of Organic Farming at GKVK, Bangalore. Obviously, we also need to tap resources from other universities in Maharashtra and Karnataka.

It took a full thirty years from 1985 to 2015 for the government to approve the establishment of a college of agriculture in Goa. There were several attempts to set up a college of agriculture in Pernem, Quepem, Ponda and Tiswadi – but all attempts were made in vain. Finally, a college was established in August 2015, marking the 80th birthday of Heman Y Karapurkar and the 200th birthday of St John Bosco. The first batch of the agriculture graduates are working to make their mark, handicapped by not having a SAU accredited to ICAR under the Ministry of Agriculture. Their alma mater is now affiliated to Goa University under the Ministry of Education. It makes a difference even for recruitment in the Directorate of Agriculture in the Goa administration. A Goa SAU will be a game changer.

Qualified faculty is important to operate an educational institution. There is a need to coach and motivate the post graduates in Goa to pass the National Eligibility Test or NET for teaching in a college. There are just a handful of NET qualified MSc (agriculture) candidates in Goa and they are not even enough for the only agriculture college in Goa. The fifteen years domicile in Goa is important because a person who is to train the future generation must know the cropping practices in Goa. There are more than thirty persons in Goa with post graduation in agriculture and allied sciences. Some of them are employed in the directorate of agriculture and can be incentivised to answer and pass NET in their respective subjects and permitted to go on deputation to the Goa SAU for a period of two to five years or loaned on foreign service basis. There are rules in place that permit such sharing of staff. And we need to think out of the box.

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